Founded in 1993, Allen Eden guitars established its initial reputation primarily by selling guitar parts online, which allowed players to essentially build their own instruments by combining a variety of parts and electronics. In 2014, however, the company opened its own warehouse, looking to offer economically priced basses and guitars. The Allen Eden Disciple 5 Deluxe is one example, and at about $500, it looks like Allen Eden is bringing that mission to the J-style 5-string market.
The first thing I noticed when I pulled the bass out of its case was the beautiful sunburst finish. A quilted-maple veneer helps the bright colors really pop on this instrument, as does the cool chrome hardware. The abalone fingerboard dots are a nice touch, too. Curious to see if the good looks were matched with excellent playability, I plugged the bass into an Aguilar Tone Hammer 500 head connected to a GS 410 cabinet. Before I got too far, though, I had to stop and adjust the action, as it was fairly high. Once that was done, I begin playing through a set list for an upcoming gig that requires me to play a 5-string. With all the knobs set in the middle, the tone was clear and punchy, although a bit bright for my taste. I increased the bass knob about a quarter turn and found that it easily added the heavy bottom I was looking for, without clouding the top end too much. After playing through the set list, I rolled through several styles, from country to rock to funk to see how versatile its tones were. It did well in each genre, requiring just minor adjustments of the tone or pickup-blend knobs. A maple fingerboard on a maple neck tends to result in a particularly bright and snappy response, and that was the case here. The C-shaped neck was quite comfortable, and the bass balanced like you would expect a J-style bass to balance.
In general, the bass performed well all the way around, and as a regular Jazz Bass 5-string player, I felt close to home with the instrument. Additionally, it offers some nice features not normally found on basses at this price. There were a couple of issues with our test bass, however. There was a pronounced grounding issue, resulting in a noticeable hum that would only go away when I touched something metal on the bass. Had I purchased this instrument, I would definitely want to get that fixed, which for most people would involve a trip to a repair shop. The second issue is minor and concerns the control knobs, which felt fairly stiff. I like knobs that roll smoothly and with minimum effort, since I tend to tweak the balance and tone knobs quite a bit when I play.
I am a big fan of quality basses that don’t cost an arm and leg, and getting your hands on an active J-style 5-string for about $500, complete with a hardshell case and stylish looks, is no easy task. With a bit more attention to detail, the Allen Eden Disciple 5 Deluxe should be able to provide that. Check it out if you’re looking to add a 5-string without having to fork over a ton of dough.
Disciple 5 Deluxe
Pros Active preamp, figured-maple top, sunburst finish
Cons Some grounding issues that require repair, knobs a bit stiff
Bottom Line A stylish, active, inexpensive 5-string.
Body North American alder w/quilted-maple veneer
Neck Hard maple, C-shape
Scale length 34"
Fingerboard Maple w/abalone dot inlays
Fingerboard radius 10"
Frets 20 medium
Nut Bone, 46mm width
Neck joint Four-bolt w/square steel plate
Controls Volume, blend, treble, bass
Bridge Heavy Mass Standard
Tuners Premium open-gear
Made in China